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Bill calls for first gambling study in state in nearly a decade

In 2009, a state-mandated analysis of gambling’s economic and social impacts found fault with the way state government was divvying up its share of the casinos’ slot-machine revenues and revealed a sharp increase in the number of Connecticut embezzlement cases in the years since the casinos came online.

No subsequent study has ever been conducted, at least not at the state’s behest.

That could change if proposed legislation calling for a comprehensive study of gambling in Connecticut gains traction.

One of a slew of gambling-related bills introduced this week by the legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee, the measure would require the commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development to develop and issue a request for proposals from “independent research and professional services” firms. Proposals would be for a study of the impacts of all forms of gambling in the state, including the casinos, the Connecticut Lottery Corp., off-track-betting facilities and charitable gaming.

The firm that wins the contract would analyze public tastes in regard to gambling and recommend a plan for the possible expansion of gambling in the state, including casinos on nontribal land, sports betting, sports fantasy contests and online lottery games.

The study would be funded by unclaimed lottery prize money.

Another proposed bill calls for the commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection to adopt regulations on sports wagering and affirms the authority of the state to regulate such wagering if and when federal law allows it. The vaguely worded bill anticipates a U.S. Supreme Court decision in a case involving a federal ban on sports betting. Most observers expect the ban to be lifted.

Yet another bill would enable the winner of a lottery ticket worth $1 million or more to remain anonymous provided he or she agreed to forgo 10 percent of the prize money. The lottery would deposit such deducted amounts in “the lottery fund,” according to the proposal.

All of the gaming-related bills, including one establishing a process for requesting casino proposals and repealing the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes’ authority to develop an East Windsor casino, are expected to be aired at a March 8 public hearing.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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